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08 February 2010
So Ukraine has elected a new president. The winner is Viktor Yanukovych. Remember him? He was the bad guy in the Orange Revolution, back at the end of 2004. The voting masses rose up in protest against dirty tricks at the ballot box committed by Yanukovych and his pro-Moscow party and kept at it until their man, Viktor Yushchenko, ended up president. Yushchenko’s key ally in that great triumph for democracy was Yulia Tymoshenko. She’s the one who lost to Yanukovych on Sunday.
You can see why some people have been saying that the Yanukovych win is a turning point in Ukraine’s recent history. Ukrainian political analyst Taras Kuzio cast this year’s election as a replay of the Orange Revolution. Tymoshenko, he wrote, represented “European-style democracy,” while Yanukovych enjoyed the ominous support of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s very own political party. “The forward-looking choice is clear,” Kuzio wrote, “and its [sic] not in the direction of Russia.” Russian-American commentator Nina Khrushcheva delivered a glowing portrait of Tymoshenko’s democratic attributes and prophesied that a Yanukovych win would mean “the last free vote Ukraine sees for a long time.”